Black Friday

fight club

Well, it looks like this year there’s only been one stabbing in a Walmart parking lot and one shooting over an on-sale tv in Las Vegas. A pretty stellar year for the feeding frenzy called Black Friday.

Now, it’s not that I never shop. It’s just not one of my preferred ways to spend my time. But I am familiar with the fleeting thrill of finding just the right piece to perk up your wardrobe or decorate your home. Black Friday, however, is a whole other world. A holiday that was traditionally about reflecting, feeling grateful and spending time with friends and family has turned into an exercise in excessive mass consumption and random violence.

And just how did shopping become the most important activity in our society? I mean, when you think about it, how sad. Out of all of the things we could value: the arts, giving back, community, shopping somehow has become our most talked about, celebrated and advertised thing to do? So, of course, if getting the lowest price so you can buy more and more stuff to fill your home with is the most important thing to you and you’re feeling a little competitive, then why wouldn’t you stab some guy who’s threatening your once-a-year deal? Right? Sigh…

The thing that bothers me the very most about Black Friday is that is has nothing, nothing, nothing to do with Canada. It’s not our Thanksgiving. We never used to have Black Friday sales until the past few years. Why does it seem that we only adopt the absolute worst of America?

Big Mac anyone?

My biggest hope for North America is that by next year we realize that true happiness comes from connection with friends and family. Sharing food, sharing laughs and sharing troubles. Not from pushing people out of the way at your suburban big box store so you can drain your bank account and stuff your house with more junk that will never, ever improve your life the way you hope it will.

Happy American Thanksgiving.

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Claudia & Taya #4

Walking back to work, I decided to take a short cut across the Art Gallery lawn and as I turned the corner I saw a beautiful woman sitting on the gallery steps, sipping a Starbucks. She was in full make-up with a perfect topknot and wearing a gorgeous, ivory wedding dress. What? I looked over and saw another woman, fiddling with her camera, getting ready to photograph her. A fashion shoot and I didn’t have my Nikon with me. Arggghh!

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I walked away, thinking they would have been amazing strangers to photograph and I’m going to have to start carrying one of my cameras with me every single day for the rest of my life. Then I thought, hey, I have my iphone, that’s better than nothing. So I approached Taya and Claudia with my card and asked if I could take their photos. Yes, I could.

I asked Claudia what was the best thing about being a model and she said “ a tie between being pampered and seeing the final photographs.” I asked her what the worst thing was and she said “Shoes. Definitely shoes. Walking down the runway in shoes that are one size too small or two sizes too big is a nightmare. ”

Okay, the shoe thing sounds annoying but, still, there is something so magical and dreamy about the fashion industry. Like stumbling upon a princess in a stunning gown of silk and tulle, sipping a Starbucks and lounging on the art gallery steps, on a Tuesday afternoon.

Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world. – Marilyn Monroe

Thank you Claudia and Taya for being my fourth strangers.


Meagan #3

I was walking by the Vancouver Art Gallery on a cold, sunny day when I spotted Meagan, standing at her post on a construction job. The first thing I noticed about her were her beautiful, aqua coloured eyes. The second thing I noticed is that she looked a little bored.

Me: Do you like your job?
Meagan: No, not really.
Me: What do you want to do?
Meagan: I don’t know. That’s why I’m working here.


Good answer. Thank you Meagan for being my third stranger.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. – Audrey Hepburn

Self Defense or Looking for Trouble?

The stabbing death of a pit bull on Kits Beach this week has been all over the news the past few days.

I had heard the story, second hand, that an elderly man had been walking his Pug off-leash along the beach when they encountered an on-leash Pit Bull. The two dogs said hello, which led to an altercation (as all dog owners know, it sometimes does) and the Pit Bull ended up clamping down on the Pug’s neck and would not let go. The 72 year old man then pulled out a knife and stabbed the Pit Bull to death, doing what he had to do, he said, to save his dog.

My first thought was, how sad. As a dog owner I could empathize with both parties. I have had someone kick my dog in the past and I became fearless, rushing towards the man, who looked like he also wanted to hit me, yelling at him and threatening to call the police. So I get the instantaneous reaction of defending your dog against harm no matter what. But, that said, something about this story raised a red flag for me. Why was the pug (who sounded aggressive) off-leash in an on-leash walking area? Why was a man, out for an afternoon walk with his dog, carrying a knife in his pocket??

I have a small dog who hates Huskies and German Shepherds with a passion and there is no way I would let him off-leash in an area where these breeds may be present. Things can get ugly pretty quickly as my dog, Nicky, loves to get in Husky and Shepherd faces and bark and growl at them and in a fight with either of these breeds, no doubt Nicky would lose… badly. So, my question is, What was this man thinking?

Then I saw the Pit Bull owners on television last night, clearly traumatized. Through their perspective the off-leash Pug charged their Pit Bull, Pandora, and would not stop barking at her. Pandora grabbed the Pug’s ear in her mouth, correcting the Pug’s behaviour as all dogs do. The Pug owner then pulled out a knife and stabbed Pandora twice. She fell to the ground. The Pug owner then stood over her, stabbing her eight more times yelling “You deserve to die”! That description chills my blood.

As we all know, there are many Pit Bull haters in the world. There is, in fact, an entire facebook page dedicated to the best ways to kill Pit Bulls. It is horrific but speaks to the amount of people in the world who hate Pitties and desperately want to hurt, maim and kill them. The more I read about this incident, the more I think that man was walking his dog off-leash with the full knowledge his pug may start a fight with a Pittie and he was ready, knife in pocket, to do harm. If the Pug’s medical report comes back with minor injuries this man needs to be arrested and charged with causing the death of this companion animal.

If I were the woman, watching a man stab my best friend 10 times while she laid bleeding on the ground, I would be completely traumatized and demand justice.

If I were the man, whose dog instigated a fight and I retaliated by stabbing someone else’s dog 10 times as she lay bleeding and whimpering on the ground, I would expect consequences. Harsh consequences.

R.I.P. Pandora

Pandora the Pit Bull with a friend

Pandora the Pit Bull with a friend

Jacob & Stewie #2

Walking by a downtown hair salon, I peeked in the window and saw the most unique looking pair. My second strangers, I thought to myself as I walked through the door.

Jacob (human) and Stewie (canine) run SIR Modern Barbershop, in downtown Vancouver and were nice enough to let me take a few photos of them between clients.

Being an animal lover, I immediately fell for handsome Stewie, especially with his mellow demeanour. He’s a six year old beauty, originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil and now happily living with his dad, Jacob, here in Vancouver. Stewie spends his days greeting clients and overseeing operations at the busy salon.

As Jacob and I chatted, I sensed that I was in the presence of another doting dog parent. Then Jacob undid the top button of his shirt and showed me his Stewie tattoo. I was impressed. There’s no way around  it. That’s pure dog dad devotion.

Thank you Stewie and Jacob for being my second strangers.


Angela #1


Rushing to work, running late as usual, on a grey, soggy, Vancouver day, I looked up and saw a woman with cherry red hair and porcelain skin walking towards me. I stopped and stared, then looked at my watch. Could she be my first stranger? Do I have time to photograph her? I couldn’t let the moment pass and see her walk away.

I showed her my “100 Strangers Project” card and asked if I could take her photo. She looked at me, paused for a moment and then said yes. My first stranger! I was elated and hoped my camera and I would be able to capture her beautiful, Mona Lisa smile.


I couldn’t for the life of me think of an interesting question to ask her so I complimented her on her beautiful hair colour instead. She laughed and said it used to be rainbow coloured but she decided to tone it down.


Thank you Angela for being my number one.

100 Strangers

Last Sunday my photowalk group decided to meet in the Business District of Vancouver, one of one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. It was an architectural walk and our focus was on the beauty and detail of the historical buildings that surrounded us.

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The buildings were absolutely lovely but what really interested me were the men and women I saw walking down the street. I found I had to keep holding myself back from photographing people as I struggled to concentrate on the buildings.

An attractive, middle-aged couple, who looked like they should be strolling along 5th Avenue in New York, were walking their gorgeous, black poodle and I stopped to chat and pet their dog. I almost asked if I could photograph the three of them but, unfortunately, let the moment slip away. The few people I did photograph inspired me to buy the book “Humans of New York” on my lunch hour the next day and I became instantly obsessed with the images and narratives in this work. I showed it to a friend at the office who also loves photography and a few minutes later she emailed me a link to the 100 strangers project on flickr. As I looked at the images, I thought, “Why am I not part of this?”

So now I am part of it and I’ll be photographing and chatting with various strangers I see on the street and posting the photos and stories here and on flickr. The rules of 100 Strangers Project state that it is a learning experience, not a race to take 100 photos and if you aren’t learning anything, you must leave the group. So I’m in, I’m ready to learn and I cannot wait to get started on this journey. As my friend, Sandrine, posted on facebook today: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

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I love his expression. Happy and proud.

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Happy hipster heading to Gastown.

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I wish I had asked this man more than “Can I take your picture”? Who is he? He’s so talented. How did he end up on the street? I’m going to go back to look for him next week.